A guest post from Brennon Kwok, Polycom Asia Pacific’s regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft and recognised by Microsoft as a Lync MVP:
My name is Brennon Kwok and I’m pleased to be a guest blogger here on THE View. As of this writing, I’m already into my fourth year with Polycom Asia Pacific as the regional UC Solution Architect for Microsoft.
When I joined Polycom in 2010, we were already in a multi-year partnership agreement with Microsoft that continues and grows stronger than ever today. Polycom offers over 40 solutions for the Microsoft UC platform that spans voice, video and UC infrastructure which is natively integrated – something that is unmatched by any other company. These solutions are supported in the field by Polycom Solution Architects such as myself who work through the technical details of integrating the two platforms and provide subject matter expertise to customers and to partners that deliver these solutions to customers. Being a Lync MVP compliments my role in Polycom in having access to deep technical resources within the technical community whilst also contributing back my own personal experiences and knowledge gained when working with customers and partners. There are 64 Lync MVPs worldwide as of January 2014; five of whom work in Polycom, which is testament to the commitment of a close working relationship between the two companies.
Polycom and Microsoft are also both founding members of the UC Interoperability Forum (UCIF), a non-profit alliance of various UC technology vendors with the vision to maximise the interoperability of UC based on existing standards. One of the tangible results of this alliance is the development of the UC Specification for H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC and SVC Modes Version 1.0. While various vendors were already incorporating H.264/SVC in their solutions, these vendor specific implementations may not fully interoperate. Thus the UCIF approved specification helps to define profiles known as “UCModes” of H.264/SVC-based systems to ensure interoperability. The approved specification builds on the profiles submitted by UCIF to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and adopted in early 2012, concerning use of H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC and SVC in Unified Communication (UC) systems (read more here).
Polycom’s native integration approach means that there are no intermediate gateways required for Polycom solutions to work with Microsoft Lync 2013 and Exchange 2013, as they ‘plug-in’ directly into the Microsoft platform. This is possible because we actually ‘bake’ the native Lync 2013 protocols and audio/video codecs directly into our solutions, allowing them to behave very much like Lync clients. What this translates to for customers is not eliminating the costs of implementing and maintaining intermediate gateways; but more importantly preserving the native Lync user experience which users have become so familiar with.
A good example of this native integration is the recent release of the latest firmware for the Polycom Group Series video collaboration system. The latest 4.1.3 version now supports the native Lync SVC implementation and SIP signalling, allowing the Group Series family to enjoy full 1080p video calls in Lync 2013 environments as well as participating in Lync AVMCU-hosted conferences where up to five participant can be viewed simultaneously. Based on the same SVC specifications from UCIF, the video streams between Lync and Group Series are being sent/received in simulcast with temporal scalability which allows better inherent network error concealment while providing high quality video.
Polycom is also targeting to ship its CX8000 room-based video collaboration solution in Q2, which is based on the Microsoft Lync Room System (LRS) specifications. Since LRS is running the native Lync 2013 client, users can expect all the benefits and features of the Lync experience when joining meetings in rooms equipped with Polycom CX8000 systems. Polycom’s differentiated offering of LRS is the inclusion of the CX5100 device which can be purchased as part of the bundle. The CX5100 is the latest generation RoundTable device and successor to the popular CX5000 RoundTable originally developed by Microsoft. The CX5100 supports full 1080p active speaker video in Lync 2013 environments as well as a unique 360⁰ panoramic view at 1920x288 resolution. This high quality panoramic view of the room provides customers with an immersive room collaboration experience during Lync meetings.
CX800: Polycom’s next-generation dedicated Lync room system
On the voice front, Lync Enterprise Voice adoption continues to see massive growth and Polycom’s broad range of VoIP handsets are ideally suited for customers deploying Lync 2013 to replace their legacy PBX systems. The Polycom CX range of Lync-optimized IP phones are built according to Microsoft Lync Phone Edition (LPE) specifications; while both the SoundPoint IP and VVX family of IP phones are qualified to work with Lync 2013 as listed at the Microsoft Technet OIP page. These three families of handsets provide customers with a wide range of options they can choose from based on their specific requirements. Newer features are continuously being developed on the VVX family based on customer feedback, such as the recent 5.x release supporting Boss/Admin and Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) features. With newer versions of handset firmware, the necessary qualification processes are also needed to make sure that the handsets continue to meet the necessary Lync voice specifications from Microsoft. Overall customers can expect continued innovation from Polycom in this area and our commitment to ensure that our phones remain the best choice for Lync voice.
Polycom’s VVX 600 Business Media Phone delivers best-in-class desktop productivity for executives and managers
In closing, while UC technologies continue to evolve over time, Polycom remains committed to open standards as well as native interoperability with one of its closest partners: Microsoft. This commitment ensures customers receive a best of breed experience and investment protection when using Polycom solutions for Microsoft UC as well as continued innovation to meet the needs of customers in this dynamic UC technology landscape.